White House

Juan Williams: Trump weaves web of corruption

There is always backstabbing and shady money in politics.

But nothing I've seen in 40 years covering national politics comes close to what we have with President Trump.

For all her credibility problems, Omarosa Manigault Newman's account of White House corruption in her new book tracks closely with the climate of routinized dishonesty, paranoia and corruption described in Michael Wolff's book "Fire and Fury."

It also matches The Wall Street Journal's reporting on Trump's lawyer admitting payoffs to silence a porn star and a Playboy model. It fits with Trump's changing story about his son's meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower.

 

It fits with a lawsuit charging the president with making money from his Washington hotel while in the White House. It fits with financial reports showing Trump's daughter and son-in-law made $81 million in outside income in the president's first year in office.

Democrats fighting to gain a majority in the House are appealing to voters to let them be a check on Trump and corruption.

"Money just doesn't talk in Washington. It shouts... But let's never lose sight of the fact that the Trump administration is the most corrupt administration in our lifetime," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a potential 2020 presidential candidate told NBC's Seth Meyers last week.

She was referring to the reports that President Trump's former chief economic advisor Gary Cohn received a $284 million payout from Goldman Sachs before taking a job at the White House, where he led the effort to write and pass the Trump tax cut. Goldman Sachs and their wealthy clients benefitted to the tune of billions of dollars.

Of course, Warren could have picked any of the myriad examples or allegations of public corruption we've seen from administration officials over the last 20 months.

There was former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt's use of $43,000 in taxpayer's money to install a private, soundproof telephone booth in his office.

There was former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's use of private and military planes for his travel, totaling almost $1 million of taxpayer money.

There are new allegations against Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, first reported by Forbes magazine, that he stole millions of dollars from business partners before joining the administration. Ross still has his job.

The Washington Post reported on Friday that the Department of Justice is looking into whether a well-known Republican fundraiser, Elliott Broidy, "sought to sell his influence with the Trump administration."

And one of Trump's biggest supporters in Congress, Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) recently suspended his reelection campaign after being arrested on charges of insider trading.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent a letter out last week calling on voters to put Democrats in office to fix the GOP's "brazen corruption, cronyism and incompetence."

A "culture of corruption" campaign message against the GOP has worked before. Pelosi became Speaker in 2006 when former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's (R-Tex.) shady dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff dominated the headlines.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board noted last week that Democrats might have a problem casting stones from their glass house where Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) resides.

But the problems Menendez poses for Democrats are small ball compared to the big political story - the daily drumbeat from the Trump White House.

The heart of the corruption stems from Trump's failure to divest from his sprawling international business empire. His family has not divested, either. All of that is compounded by his stubborn refusal to release his tax returns.

As Paul Waldman wrote for the Washington Post last week: "Not only has he failed to find the best people; he attracts the most corrupt and incompetent people around, who see in Trump a vehicle to wet their own beaks or at the very least carry out a retrograde agenda in an environment where ethical behavior is actively discouraged."

Omarosa agrees:

"There's a lot of very corrupt things happening in the White House and I am going to blow the whistle on a lot of them," she said while promoting her new book. She revealed she was offered a $15,000 a month job on the Trump 2020 campaign to stay silent about what she saw in the White House.

And in keeping with the odor of scandal, she has secret tapes of conversations with Trump family and White House officials.

"I protected myself because this is a White House where everybody lies," she said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"The president lies to the American people. Sarah Huckabee stands in front of the country and lies every single day. You have to have your own back because otherwise you'll look back and you'll see 17 knives in your back."

It is easy for Democrats to say the Trump administration is the most corrupt administration in history.

But keep in mind that corruption is more than old-fashioned political graft. The far more serious crime is Trump's corruption of our collective civic soul as Americans. There is the normalization of cynicism, paranoia, hatred of immigrants, racism, lying and stealing.

To me, that is the real crime. Every Republican who has enabled it will be judged by the voters in November.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

Outbrain
View desktop version